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By writing stories about the destinations that interest you, you can enjoy comped travel to almost anywhereWhen the hook clicks open, and the pilot catches the updraft, the cockpit goes silent. An ethereal mood takes over as the aircraft ceases its strain against the winch rope. You are floating on air. Thermals carry you up, currents take you forward. The vista is glorious. It’s intoxicating.

That is the opener for my story, England: Gliding Across the Border to Wales. My piece shares a unique form of travel—gliding—which is flying in a plane with neither an engine or propeller, soaring like birds.

I made this thrilling journey over the Shropshire Hills in England while on a blogging assignment for GoNOMAD Travel. Because of my assignment, the gliding excursion was free, and I got paid for the story and photographs.

Gliding isn’t the only flying I’ve enjoyed as a travel writer, blogger, and photographer. I’ve also been indoor skydiving, zip lining, flown in a two-passenger plane, and on an A-380 to London. Each of these was compliments of visitor’s bureaus, PR companies, and the attractions themselves.

Here are a few more of my adventures: canoeing the River Severn; kayaking the River Wye; open-Pacific rowing in a 16-foot whaleboat; coast to coast by train; 30 days of driving the backroads of England; seven nights in luxury lodging in Cornwall; a seven-day, 100-mile road trip along Florida’s northeast coast; and five weeks exploring Oregon.

These all came at no cost to me while I also was paid to take photos, videos, and write about my adventures.

Why I became a travel writer

After that list, you might not have to ask—but the truth is, I dreamed of world travel when I retired. When the time came, though, the dollars I’d saved had shrunk to pennies, and the pennies were consumed by life’s unexpected events. Now travel was out of the question. My Social Security-based budget didn’t have room for airfare, hotels, restaurants, and adventure holidays.

After feeling sorry for myself for a couple of years, I took a friend’s advice and began to think about how to become a travel writer. When a regional paper published two of my stories about local music events, that was enough to convince me to attend the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop.

Within four months of the workshop, I was in San Francisco, staying in a luxurious Japantown hotel, eating my meals on-the-house in restaurants, taking complimentary tours, and having the time of my life. Most of my trip was comped, and my out-of-pocket expenses were recouped from fees I earned for stories and photos. At last count, I made a profit of around $500 from my first trip as a travel writer, and I’m still selling stories.

How I achieve my comped travel around the world:

1. Decide where I want to go. Then I research the destination and look for places I’d like to explore and write about.
2. Contact the conventions and visitors bureaus (CVBs), public relations companies, accommodations or attractions associated with or at the destination. I introduce myself, ask to be added to the mailing list, and tell them of my plans to visit.
3. Begin to formulate story ideas and query publications that I think will be interested in content from my next excursion.
4. With story assignments in-hand, I reach out to the CVBs and ask for journalist assistance.
5. Start packing!

I love out-of-the-ordinary destinations as the subjects for stories and photos—my retirement career as a full-time travel writer has handed me the keys to the world.

Hmmm, I wonder what the weather is like this time of year in Malta…

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